Posts Tagged ‘Party Political Broadcasts’

Pathetic Cabinet Reshuffle Shows How Weak May Really Is

January 17, 2018

Last Wednesday, May decided to unveil her new cabinet after its reshuffle, in order to show how exciting and dynamic her government is. And it did precisely the opposite. Many of her cabinet ministers were in their old jobs, because they’d refused to budge, or had dictated to her which departments they would be going to. Despite the excited claim by the right-wing press that it was a ‘bonfire of the White males’, most of her ministers were indeed White men. And just about all of them from wealthy backgrounds, educated at Oxbridge. The press described it as ‘lacklustre’, and the whole sorry affair showed how weak May was.

All this was very different from last summer, when the Tory spin doctors were promoting May as ‘strong and stable’. Now she looks very weak and insecure.

After the cabinet reshuffle, she turned up on our TVs in the evening in a party political broadcast, trying to convince the country that the Tories were doing something to benefit the country, rather than run it, and its working people, into the ground. People have asked the Advertising Standards Authority why they can’t do anything about misleading political adverts. The ASA can’t, because it has no powers to do so. But if it did, you can bet that the Tories’ political broadcast last Wednesday would one of those being investigated.

And coming after May’s less than stellar cabinet reshuffle, it too looked rather pathetic. A piece of pleading to the electorate to vote for them, despite May’s uninspiring cabinet reshuffle, and the immense poverty she and her party are inflicting on the country.

It’s high time this charade was ended, and May and her vile crew voted out of office.

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Lobster Review of John Strafford’s Book on Un-Democratic Britain

September 24, 2016

Anthony Frewin wrote a review of a fascinating political history in Lobster 59. This was Our Fight for Democracy: A History of Democracy in the United Kingdom, by John Strafford, and published by the author. A history of the development of democracy in Britain from the Romans and Anglo-Saxons onwards, Frewin praised the book for its readability and the fact that it was able to say something new in area which has been extensively covered by other historians. For example, unlike the conventional Whig narrative, which sees the emergence of democracy and representative government as a smooth progress from the middle ages to today, Strafford is quite clear that not only was this process not inevitable, it had to be actively fought for. Frewin quotes him in an introductory chapter as saying that ‘riot and revolution are the mother and father of democracy’ and ‘Our history shows that nearly all the advances towards democracy were accompanied by violence.’ He notes that Strafford’s is a critical history, and so does not automatically greet the great milestones in the development of democracy, like Magna Carta, the Great Reform Act and votes for women with uncritical admiration. And the book also contains much information on how un- and indeed anti-democratic political structures and institutions have survived into the present day.

Like the business vote. Under the old political system, business leaders were also granted a number of extra votes in local elections. This was not abolished with the Great Reform Act of 1833, but survived for another 136 years before finally being removed in 1969 from all of Britain with one exception: the City of London. Indeed, 14 years ago in 2002 16,000 new business votes were created.
Strafford states that the justification for non-resident voting in the centre of the metropolis is that the real population of the City is the 45,000 people who just work there in the daytime, and not just the mere 9,500 who permanently live there. A Private Act of Parliament passed the same year doubled the number of voters to 32,000. The actual captains of industry don’t even have to vote personally. They can nominate employees to do so, and the number of votes businesses receive depends on their size. He makes the point that wealth shouldn’t be allowed to buy votes, and that non-residents of the City of London should be deprived of the franchise in the City. If that means that the City’s electorate then becomes too small to be practical, the City should either be amalgamated with another borough or split up.

Lobster is profoundly Eurosceptic, and so Frewin’s reviews discusses the sheer absence of anything like democracy in the European parliament, where the MEPs’ power is severely limited and the Union governed instead by the unelected commissioners. An example of this complete absence of democracy is the career of Baroness Ashton of Upholland, who rose spectacularly from relative obscurity to become British High Commissioner in Brussels through appointment by Tony Blair and others, without once going through an election. This is an example of the way the government has increasingly adopted the practice of co-opting outsiders. One example of this was Gordon Brown’s elevation to the peerage of ten such people, who became government ministers. These included three businessmen, a surgeon, a former head of the RN, and an ex-diplomat. Frewin also makes the point that this also exemplifies the rise of Yes-men and -women, whose government preferment depends on political patronage.

The review also states that Strafford gives a list of 69 recommendations for reforms that would make the country more democratic, and includes a sample. These are:

1: Power should be devolved from central government and the higher levels of local government to the lowest practical level.
2: For all electoral purposes the City of London should be
amalgamated with the City of Westminster.
3: The Regional Development Agencies should be abolished and their functions transferred to local Councils.
10: The oath of allegiance should either be abolished or it should be changed to ‘I swear that I will bear true allegiance to the people, Parliament and democracy according to law.’
14: The whole House of Commons should elect Select Committee chairmen by secret ballot, thus ending de facto appointment of chairmen by the party whips.
18: The people should directly elect the Prime Minister. He could be removed by majorities in both Houses of Parliament or by referendum.
25: Our entire legal system should be disentangled from the nonsense that justice is dispensed in the name of the Queen. It should be dispensed in the name of the people.
28: The people should directly elect the House of Lords.
31: The European Council of Ministers should meet in public.
32: The European Scrutiny Committee of the House of
Commons should meet in public.
39: Both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party should reform themselves to become democratic bodies answerable to their membership so that members can change the Constitution of their party on the basis of One Member One
Vote.
46: Party Political Broadcasts (PPBs) should be abolished.
59: Within one month of the monarch’s death a ballot should be held of all the people to endorse the successor. Should such endorsement not be given a ballot should be held on the successor’s eldest child becoming monarch. Should
endorsement once again not be forthcoming the monarchy
would be abolished.

Frewin comments ‘Some pretty radical proposals here.’ Yes, indeed. We’ve seen how bitterly anti-democratic the Blairites in the Labour party have been about letting the membership vote in radical leaders and changes in policy that they dislike with their purges of the membership and constant campaigning against Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters.

One of the fascinating features of the book is that Strafford himself is not a left-winger. He founded a campaigning group in the Tories, the Campaign for Conservative Democracy, who have a website at http://www.copov.org.uk/. He was also one of those marching against the Iraq invasion, where he and his wife held a banner, ‘Conservatives Against the War’.

The review is at the magazine’s website on their books pages. This is at http://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk. Pick the issue from the selection at the page, and then scroll down till you get to the relevant review. This also provides the details how you can order the book from Strafford himself.

Rachel Maddow on the Republican’s ‘Southern Strategy’ and Fox’s Demonisation of Blacks

March 27, 2015

Rachael Maddow is an American left-wing news anchor and political commentator on American television. I found this extremely interesting video from her show on Youtube. In it, she talks about the Republicans’ ‘Southern Strategy’. This was formulated in 1970s by Kevin Phillips. Phillips believed that after desegregation, the Republicans would get no more than 10 to 20 per cent of the Black vote. He advised the party that this should not concern them, and that they shouldn’t even try. Instead, they should target White voters, playing on their fears of Blacks and that they would be disadvantaged and discriminated against in their favour.

She shows a 1990s Republican party political broadcast which featured a pair of white hands clenched in rage and despair over a job rejection letter. The White man in the broadcast had been turned down for the job because of ethnic quotas introduced to give more jobs to Blacks and supported by a named politician. The job then urges Whites opposed to this new form of discrimination and fearing their own displacement and victimisation to vote for the Republican candidate. She then goes on to discuss Kevin Philips’ invention of the strategy before moving on to report its latest manifestation in Fox News.

She gives for examples of the way Murdoch’s American network deliberately demonised and played on White fears about individual Black politicians and organisations in order to get White votes. Fox News boasts, and has even copyrighted, the slogan ‘fair and balanced reporting’. It’s anything but. In the four cases she discusses, the broadcaster actually lies to smear its victims.

It attacked Obama’s czar on renewable energy, Van Jones, claiming that he had been jailed for waving a club around during the Rodney King riots. He hadn’t. She talks about how it presented ACORN, a scheme which promoted mostly ethnic minority causes, as one long festering morass of corruption. The scheme has long since collapsed, but in other videos she shows how the Republicans were still mentioning it in order to scare and drum up support from White voters long after its demise.

They also attempted to create political capital out of the New Black Panther Party shouting at and haranguing voters at a local polling station. This was presented as a new form of Black militancy targeting and intimidating White voters. In fact, they weren’t. Maddow herself states that far from being a new, terrifying political force, the New Black Panther Party was ‘a couple of whackjobs’. They certainly look aggressive and extremely intimidating in the footage Fox showed of them. The federal authorities investigated them, however, and found that they weren’t. The other news agencies didn’t bother with this non-story. Fox was one of the exceptions.

And then there was the supposed case of a Black federal official, Sheren Sherad (sp?), who supposedly was found guilty of discriminating against White farmers. That was another lie.

Among the faces repeating these barefaced lies and propaganda were the usual offenders against truth, decency and a genuinely moral, civil society: Bill O’Reilly, Michelle Malkin and the original, archetypal swivel-eye loon himself, Glen Beck.

Maddow concludes by saying that this isn’t about the victimisation of Black per se, it is about the use of the fears of the supposed threat from Black to get Whites to vote Republican. Here’s the video.

I’ve posted it here, as although it deals with American history and political issues, this tactic has cross the Atlantic. Anti-racist legislation here in Britain and the fact that we don’t have a written constitution defending freedom of speech means that such blatant fear-mongering is simply impossible over here. Nevertheless, the Tories and Farage’s UKIP have tried something very similar. Despite it’s claims to be a non-racist, non-sectarian party, UKIP is full of racists, Islamophobes and, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, bigots with a bitter hatred of Roman Catholics. It has the full backing of groups like Britain First, and its members also support other far right organisation like the BNP and EDL. It is a party, which is founded on White fears of Blacks and Asians, and particularly Islam. It is also fiercely misogynistic and homophobic. As for playing on White fears, remember the poster they put up showing a builder in hardhat and high-visibility clothing? This was put up on hoardings up and down the country with a slogan about how British people were being laid off in order to employ cheap immigrant labour. It’s a line that goes all the way back to the British Brothers’ League and the fears about Jewish immigration just before the First World War.

And the Tories very definitely are no better. I’ve blogged before about how they too have used an approach very similar to the ‘Southern Strategy’, but of necessity less overt. The Daily Mail has been running pieces attacking ‘affirmative action’, positive discrimination quotas and other forms of ‘political correctness’, since these first appeared in the 1980s. Other Tory papers and magazines have also repeated this line. In 2004 the Spectator published a piece that stated that the only section of the demographic not welcome in London were White males. It also ran a piece ‘Blackened Whites’, attacking the way anti-racism campaigns portrayed Whites as evil and racist. It’s the same approach the Repugs ran under Dubya attempting to play on the fears and hatred of ‘angry White men’. And it’s significant that for all the more liberal verbiage with which Farage comes out, he attended the CPAC Republican convention.

Maddow shows what’s going on in America. But it’s also only the most extreme and overt manifestation of what Cameron, Farage, and their media friends, like the Dirty Digger and Richard Desmond, are doing over here.